9 Aug 2012

West Yorkshire officers join Tia Sharp search

Tia Sharp’s step-grandfather denies any connection to her disappearance while more than 80 police – including officers working for the force that found Shannon Matthews – continue searching.

West Yorkshire Police officers have joined forces from around Britain in the search for Tia Sharp, Scotland Yard revealed today. The 12-year-old vanished on Friday afternoon after telling relatives she was going to buy shoes.

“This is a missing persons inquiry and we are putting all of our resources into finding her,” a police spokesman said today. Community volunteers have also organised searches, and police have received more than 300 calls and 60 reported sightings.

Police have also collected 800 hours of CCTV footage from buses and trams and have so far viewed 120 hours of material.

Step-grandfather denies involvement

Meanwhile, David Sharp, the uncle of missing schoolgirl, said he hoped she was safe, urged her to come home and said her family was “in bits”.

Tia Sharp’s step-grandfather Stuart Hazell insisted he would never do anything to hurt Tia. Mr Hazell, who previously dated Tia’s mother, Natalie Sharp, 30, admitted he had a “shady past” but “loved the girl to bits,” according to media reports.

Mr Hazell said he believed others were pointing the finger at him because he was the last person to see her. Tia did not bring her mobile phone or travel card when she left the house at 12:10pm following a morning playing computer games.

“I loved her to bits. She’s like my own daughter. She’s got a lovely home. I can’t work out what’s going on.

“She’s a happy-go-lucky golden angel. She’s perfect,” he said.

In the previous missing persons’ case involving Shannon Matthews, her mother Karen Matthews and accomplice Michael Donovan were convinced in December 2008 of kidnapping Shannon to claim £50,000 reward money.